On policy hauntology: tracking policies past and present under liberal settler occupation in Australia
(University of Sydney)
Paper short abstract:
This paper articulates a theory of policy mobility and policy residues. Ecological and actor-network assemblage concepts help to explore Indigenous policy laminations in settler colonial Australia, but if everything is entangled, what then are the possibilities for political agency?
Paper long abstract:
This paper describes policy travel both in terms of policy as a modality of settler colonial governance, and as something which operates spectrally, as policies past form a haunting presence, shaping bodies and life possibilities as an invisible force in the contemporary moment. Using examples drawn from long term fieldwork conducted in regional and remote Australia, movement here is imagined both as the freighting in of new policy regimes - of the conventionally understood 'do this, constrain that' variety - and as a dynamic interaction with prior policy imports, organically conceived. To understand how policy travels and its manifold effects, we need to arrest the temptation of thinking of policy movement as a uni-directional flow from one static point to another, and consider movement using more ecological frames, tracing the circulations between policy pronouncements, laws, political structures, global capital, ideologies, conditions within offices, conditions within households, so on and so forth; to explore how these circulations create sticky inheritances which are also part of their here-and-now material manifestations. While such a conceptualisation of policy mobility owes a clear allegiance to actor network theory, this paper also seeks a different destination: one which describes the possibilities for politicised human agency within the thickets of various policy ecologies; or put differently, one which articulates an answer to the perennial question animating much policy critique, 'what else can we do?'.
Policy mobility in a globalised world: how ideas and practices of governance and management travel, settle and colonise new domains